ERRANT KNIGHTS? – by Donal Kennedy

I watched an old programme last night where Michael  Portillo’s train took him to Romania and its capital Bucharest.It showed a massive monumental block of flats, no uglier than the Victor Emmanuel monument in Rome, where many acres of handsome streets had been cleared of their residents at a few hours’ notice and flattened by the megalomaniac  dictator Nicolai Ceausescu, whose grisly end was recounted by Portillo.

The fact that Ceausescu had been dubbed a Knight of the Bath by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II was not mentioned.

Checking on the internet I find that the Queen revoked the title hours before his death, on Christmas Day 1989. I gathered elsewhere that the title was bestowed in 1978 when Jim Callaghan was UK Prime Minister.

Benito Mussolini died in similar circumstances to those of Ceausescu, and, like him had been dubbed a Knight of the Bath by a British Monarch (George V in 1923).  He also held the Order of the White Eagle, bestowed by Poland.

Perhaps the most often mentioned Knight of the Bath is Sir Keir Starmer.

Mussolini started in  politics as a socialist and was expelled by them in 1914. He edited a paper which was bankrolled by the British secret service from 1917 as he advocated joining the British war effort.

He wrote for the Daily Mail well into the late 1930s and considered it his favourite English language newspaper. He considered Anthony Eden the best dressed fool he had ever met.



Comments are closed.